Spaghetti Sauce or Red Sauce

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The debate has raged for many years: is it called sauce or is it called gravy?


Here is the truth: Line up ten Italians and ask them how they make spaghetti sauce (gravy) and you will get ten different answers.

I was fortunate to be able to watch both my Italian grandmothers make their gravy (Grandma Grande and Grandma Palmieri). I watched. I took notes. I asked how much of the ingredients they used.
They both laughed.

They both said  they didn't really know. They used "a little bit of this and a little bit of that", until it tasted good.

Here is my version:


  • 1-28oz. can of crushed tomato, stewed tomato or puree
  • 1-6oz. can of tomato paste
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic (or more)
  • Olive oil
  • Basil, parsley, oregano, salt,
    pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup of red table wine (more or less)


1.  Crush garlic with the side of a knife and mince.
2.  Add olive oil to a sauce pot turned on to medium-low heat. Add garlic and gently sauté.
3. (Savor the aroma of the cooked garlic!) Lightly cook garlic until it starts to change color.
4.   Don't overcook, as the garlic will be bitter if left to long.
5.  Add canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and wine. Add spices to taste.
6.  Reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer. Stir occasionally as the mixture cooks
7.  If you wish, add more minced garlic or spices.

Hints and Tips

  •   Allow your sauce to cook as long as possible, at least 1-2   hours or longer. The longer it cooks, the better it will be.
  • Depending on the type of tomatoes you use, your sauce may be to thick or to watery. If to thick, add a little water. If to thin, simmer uncovered, until it thickens.
  •   Always make more than you will use for the meal. You can easily freeze the left over sauce. Use extra for pizza, eggplant Parmigiana or as a basic ingredient for barbecue sauce.
  •   If you have any meat, you can add it to the sauce for extra flavor. You can use chicken, veal, lamb, pork or meatballs.
  •   Use fresh herbs and spices, if possible. They will make any sauce taste vigorous! If you use dried herbs, place in your hands and rub your hands together. Then, sprinkle into the sauce. This seems to unlock the flavor of the spices!
  •   Go easy on the salt, canned tomatoes already have salt inside.
  • You can use fresh tomatoes for your sauce. The tomatoes should be very ripe. Blanche the tomatoes in some boiling water and remove the skin. Puree in a blender or food processor. Some people like to remove the seeds of the tomato by straining. I just use the whole tomato.
  • I usually don't use oregano in my sauce. (Sometimes, I do, though.)
    Be careful about how much spices you add! Oregano can be a strong spice!
  •   If you added to much spice, don't worry. Just dilute your sauce with another can or two of tomatoes.
  • If you use stewed tomatoes, make sure you crush them with a fork!

Watch the video of
 How to make spaghetti sauce, here.


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